I have read that the New Horizons probe plans on visiting some other Kuiper-belt objects once it passes Pluto, but not sure which ones. This brings up a few questions:

  • Are there any leading KBO candidates?
  • Are they just looking for objects in its current trajectory, or does the probe have enough fuel to significantly alter its orbit on closest approach with Pluto?
  • Will New Horizons follow a hyperbolic trajectory past Pluto?
  • How close will it get to the surface?
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder if the Gaia space telescope could contribute. $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 14:42

2 Answers 2


Edit as of August 31, 2015: Looks like 2014 MU69 will be the post Pluto target. Paul Gilster has a nice article on Centauri Dreams.

Edit as of Jan. 3, 2015: This article says 3 potential candidates were found in December of 2014.

This article says the New Horizons team is running out of time to find KBOs to check out after it passes Pluto. No post Pluto targets at this time. Hopefully they'll find candidate(s) soon.

Yes, it's orbit is hyperbolic. It'll be flying by Pluto at a pretty good clip, nearly 14 km/s at closest approach. According to the linked Wikipedia article it's expect to come within 10,000 km of Pluto and 27,000 km of Charon.


2014 MU69 is the primary mission for now, but there are at least a few other things being done.

  1. Images are being taken of other KBOs, which given the much higher solar angle than anything which can be done at Earth can provide interesting observations.
  2. Other potential targets are being discussed. The odds of finding one isn't great, but if all goes according to plan, there will be plenty of left over fuel to provide another target.

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